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Big Ten Football Countdown: No.1 Ohio State

Ohio State looks to get back on the BCS path

Kirk Irwin

An obvious choice to win the Big Ten, Ohio State is No.1 in the Big Ten Football Countdown. Coming off 12-0 campaign, the Buckeyes receive an audacious ranking of 2 in the USA Today preseason football poll. To say that Urban Meyer's first season in Columbus is a understatement, as he took a 6-7 Buckeye team and made them into the only other undefeated team before the bowl season. The Buckeyes would have had a realistic shot at the BCSNCG if it wasn't for their NCAA bowl ban. In year two Meyer will have the nearly impossible task of following up an undefeated season. I say nearly impossible, for what could follow up an undefeated season: another undefeated season? Ohio State will certainly have the offense to contend for another undefeated year as the Buckeyes return nine starters on offense. The question will be wether the defense can keep up with the offense, which returns only four starters total, only one being on the defensive front seven. Another large hurdle in Ohio State's path to the BCSNCG is November 30th, when they take on Michigan in the Big House. That game is just screaming upset. Of course, Ohio State may slip up before then as the Buckeye must defeat Northwestern in Evanston first.

2012 Record: 12-0 (8-0)

Returning Starters: 14 (9 OFF, 4 DEF, 1 ST)

Key Losses on Offense: WR Jake Stoneburner (269 yds. 4 TD)

Key Losses on Defense: DE John Simon, DE Nathan Williams, DT Johnathan Hankins, DT Garrett Goebel, LB Etienne Sabino, CB Travis Howard

Head Coach: Urban Meyer: 12-0 (2nd Year)

Strength: Offense and Secondary

The bulk of Ohio State's offense lied in the rushing game, which was 10th in rushing last season, averaging 242 rushing yards a game. QB Braxton Miller (2039 pass yds. 15 TD) was the Buckeye's top rusher last season, rushing for 1271 yards and 13 TD. RB Carlos Hyde (970 yds. 16 TD) will be absent for the Buckeye's first three games, which should give RB Jordan Hall (218 yds. 1 TD) and RB Rod Smith (215 yds, 2 TD) time to gain experience. Four returning starters to the offensive line should only further benefit an already unstoppable rushing attack. The Buckeyes could find themselves a bit shorthanded in the passing game as WR Philly Brown (669 yds. 3 TD) and WR Devin Smith (618 yds. 6 TD) are the only real receiving threats for Ohio State.

Weakness/Questions: Defensive Front Seven

The Buckeyes will be a near flawless team in 2013, the only problem is the defensive front seven. Actually, it could be a big problem for the Buckeyes as LB Ryan Shazier (115 TOT) is the only starter returning to the defensive front seven. By no means did Ohio State have a bad defense in 2012, but with so few returning talent to a defense that allowed IU to score 49 points, the lack of a rushing defense could be detrimental to the Buckeye's season. Luckily for Ohio State, the Buckeyes are pretty much set in the secondary, which returns three starters including AP All American CB Bradley Roby (63 TOT). Don't expect the Buckeye's to be the best at stopping the pass, as jumping from the 76th best passing defense to the top 25 is a long leap.

Projected Record: 12-1 (7-1)

Bowl Game: Rose Bowl